Make Lois Bronz Children's Center Great Again!
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For many years, Lois Bronz Children's Center has been an important community staple in the Town of Greenburgh, New York. Originally named Union Child Day Care Center, it was started in 1966 by Delores "June" Castleberry, a Greenburgh resident, in the basement of Union Baptist Church to provide organized child care for the working women of the community. Because of the center's early successes, it became the first licensed daycare in New York State. In 2006, the name of the daycare center was changed to Lois Bronz Children's Center in honor of Westchester County Legislator Lois Bronz, an avid supporter and fundraiser for the center. As the saying goes: It takes a village to raise a child. For years, the daycare has been a place where women and men in the community could find gainful employment and learn valuable skills while keeping the Greenburgh community close-knit. However, many changes have taken place within the last year and Lois Bronz Children's Center has seemingly lost its soul due to poor management and an administrative staff that lacks respect for the teachers and the families of the Greenburgh community.
In May 2018, The Journal News reported that $177,786 in “ineligible costs” were found in a September 2017 audit at the Lois Bronz Children's Center. Prior to that article being published, the teachers and the residents of Greenburgh were unaware that funds were being mismanaged. However, in early 2018, there were many unexplained changes taking place and, from February to April 2018, the center was operating without a director until the current director, Marcia Lawrence, was hired by the Board of Directors. At the time, Joan W. Lewis Shepherd was the Board Chair but, sometime after the news of financial mismanagement went public, Mrs. Shepherd quietly stepped down from that position and, just as quietly, began serving as the "Chief Director of Operations," a position that no one knew existed.
What's most disturbing about the mismanagement of $177,786 in funds that most likely come from state and federal grants is the fact that Lois Bronz Children's Center pays little to no rent. The building in which the center operates is owned by the Town of Greenburgh and, as a part of a special agreement, Lois Bronz Children's Center has been able to operate practically rent-free. Furthermore, as a part of a bargaining agreement, Lois Bronz Children's Center is supposed to give raises to give pay increases to its employees every two years but has failed to do so since as far back as 2011.
Mrs. Shepherd, a resident of Stamford, CT, and Ms. Lawrence, a resident of Greenwich, CT, seem to have had a sisterly bond as if their relationship precedes Lois Bronz Children's Center. And if that isn't bad enough, Ms. Lawrence's best friend of more than 20 years and possible next door neighbor, Norma Hudson, has also been hired as a top administrator. As it appears, Mrs. Shepherd and her Circle of Sisters, which also includes Nurse June Moore, wants to rid the center of employees that the community has long-trusted and that have dedicated themselves to being the village that is needed to raise the children of the community and replace those dedicated workers with others in their circle.
Within the past year, there have been several complaints by parents and teachers about a number of things including the food that is being served to the children and the incompetence of the nurse when it comes to keeping children's medical records. On several occasions, the administrators which include Joan W. Lewis Shepherd, Marcia Lawrence, Norma Hudson and June Moore, have ignored these complaints and have, at times, been rude and dismissive to parents and teachers that are putting the children's best interests first. Qualified candidates from the Greenburgh community have even responded to postings on the job website indeed.com for the Food Prep position but have been denied while inexperienced "friends" of the top administrators continue to serve children uncooked meat, fruit that has bugs crawling on it and a variety of items that aren't safe to serve to children in a daycare setting.
The parents, teachers and residents of the Greenburgh community have tried time and again to give these outsiders a chance to fix the problems but, as it seems, Mrs. Shepherd and Ms. Lawrence, who are not members of our community, do not seem to be interested in doing what's best for the community and the children in it.
We are asking Town of Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner and the members of the Greenburgh Town Council to intervene by no longer allowing Joan W. Lewis Shepherd and the current Lois Bronz Children's Center Board of Directors to use resources that could be put to better use in the hands of others in the community. There is no reason why these people that have no interest in serving our community are allowed to operate a business rent-free when there are other entities that have proven to be about the betterment of our community that can run a successful daycare in that building while making sure the children are safe and that the families and the teachers in our community are happy.
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